CSAC Bulletin Article

New Housing Legislation Introduced

January 4, 2018

The second year of the legislative session kicked off with several new bills designed to promote housing production. Senator Scott Wiener introduced three bills with major implications for the allocation of housing goals among jurisdictions and the approval of proposed housing developments. Senator Wiener authored 2017’s SB 35, which requires local governments to offer a by-right approval process for qualifying housing developments when Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) goals are not met within a jurisdiction.

Unlike SB 35, which the Senator argued would ensure that local agencies approve housing developments consistent with existing local rules, SB 827 overrides local zoning ordinances, general plans, and specific plans. Specifically, proposed housing developments located close to rail stations or within one-quarter mile of bus stops or stations on routes with headways of fifteen minutes or less, would no longer be subject to density or floor area ratio limits, or other local requirements that could affect the total number of units built. In lieu of local zoning rules, new state-imposed maximum height limits ranging from 45 to 85 feet would apply to qualifying projects.

Senator Wiener’s SB 829 would take a similar approach for the development of farmworker housing developed by “agricultural operators” and operated by “independent nonprofits.” The bill, which currently only includes intent language, would seek to override local land use rules to allow farmworker housing development without requiring rezoning.

At least two legislators will carry legislation to change the process for allocating regional housing goals amongst local jurisdictions across the state. Senator Wiener has introduced SB 828, which is aimed at increasing housing development goals in high-cost, high-income markets. Assembly Member Bloom will also introduce a bill to make changes to the RHNA process.

Finally, Assembly Member Kevin McCarty has indicated that he will introduce a bill that will penalize local governments where housing development at all income levels has not kept pace with goals based on RHNA. Specifically, McCarty’s proposal would withhold specified transportation funding from local jurisdictions where housing development has trailed.

CSAC is still in the process of analyzing these new bills and will keep you informed as another busy year for housing legislation in Sacramento takes shape.

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